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Govt to bail out the media, too?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Little-Acorn, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. Little-Acorn

    Little-Acorn Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2009
    Likes Received:
    San Diego, CA
    For weeks now, conservatives have protested the idea of the Government taking over the running of some banks' functions, such as dictating maximum salaries for their executives etc. And when they have, liberals have smugly replied, "When you take the government's money, you must do what the government says." Some describe it as part of a "contract" between govt and those banks: "Govt is simply saying that IF the banks want the money, they have to do certain things; then they let banks decide if the want the money or not."

    The issue of whether the Govt is legally allowed to offer bailout money in the first place, usualy goes unexamined.

    But what happens if Govt bails out the media?

    Will the media become govt-controlled businesses, as liberals are so happy to let banks become? Who, then will perform the function of watchdogging government - an invaluable part of a free society?

    Of course, this brings up a parallel question of its own:

    If government started controlling parts of the mainstream media and dictating how they must operate - possibly including what they write - would anyone notice any difference?



    News bailouts threaten freedom of press
    'You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it'

    Posted: February 10, 2009
    8:39 pm Eastern
    by Drew Zahn

    Floundering media and news conglomerates have expressed interest in accepting government bailout money, leading some to object, arguing that strings attached to federal funds will subvert our nation's freedom of the press.

    Brent Bozell, president of the media watchdog organization Media Research Center, contends that if a news company – even a bankrupt one – accepts taxpayer money, it can no longer be trusted to hold government accountable to the people.

    "How in the world can [a] paper propose to be a watchdog for the public when it's had conversations about being bankrolled by the government?" Bozell asked in The Philadelpia Bulletin.

    "When a media outlet proposes a bailout, it proposes to put itself under the authority of the entity bailing it out," Bozell said. "Therefore, if it's a government, the media entity proposes to become an arm of the government."

    Bozell was reacting to news that the publisher of both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News has been in discussions with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell about a potential government bailout of Philadelphia Media Holdings, the company that owns the newspapers.

    "If newspapers are to play the vital role they do in a democracy," said Philadelphia Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney, quoted in his own paper, "then they cannot be put into a special line where they alone stand barred from receiving the economic development dollars that are available to every other business in the state."

    Reuters reports a similar situation in Connecticut, where State Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, petitioned the state government to step in and help save The Bristol Press and The New Britain Herald after their parent company accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, though the papers have since been purchased by a new owner.

    And as the nation's largest news conglomerates face increasing, startling losses, some worry that these major corporations may turn to the federal government, much as banks and the auto industry have. But at what cost?

    In an editorial titled "How About Tossin' a Bailout This Way," Jeff Ackerman, publisher of the Grass Valley, Calif., newspaper The Union joked, "If Congress bails out the newspaper industry, we'd also promise to be a lot nicer than we have been to various politicians."

    Yet compromising the free press is exactly what many are worried will happen if government tosses a bailout to the media.

    Former reporter and editor Paul Janensch, now a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, summarized for Reuters the problem with media companies accepting government bailouts:

    "You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it," Janensch said.

    Digby Solomon, publisher of The Daily Press in Newport News, Va., told Reuters, "The whole idea of the First Amendment and separating media and giving them freedom of control from the government is sacrosanct."

    The precedent for blurring the separation of press and state, however, has already been set.

    Last fall, according to a Bloomberg report, the U.S. government agreed to insure as much as $139 billion in debt for GE Capital Corp., the lending arm of the giant conglomerate General Electric, which also happens to be the parent company of news provider MSNBC and television company NBC.

    Two months later, MSNBC debuted a promotion for election night coverage with the tagline "The Power of Change," prompting Fox News columnist Jim Pinkerton to comment on the motto's similarity to Barack Obama's campaign slogan, "Change We Can Believe In."

    "I think it goes right to what MSNBC's up to as a strategy," Pinkerton said on a Fox News broadcast, suggesting MSNBC's tenor had moved to the political left, especially with the prominence of the opinionated MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. "Now, for a $139 billion guarantee, I'd consider, I'd probably go more, I'd probably go all the way over to the Olbermann/Maddow territory."

    GE, however, isn't the only media-owning corporation that has faced desperate financial times recently. Under $12 billion of debt, the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December. The news conglomerate McClatchy Co. reported a $21.7 million loss for the fourth quarter of 2008. And over a six-year period this decade, a company deposition revealed, Hearst Newspapers' San Francisco Chronicle lost money at the rate of $1 million per week.

    In September, an editorial in Editor and Publisher further warned that a newspaper bailout was gaining credibility with the press: "[Those] talking up a government bailout also include such respected newspaper veterans as Seattle Times Publisher Frank A. Blethen and editor-turned-academic Geneva Overholser," wrote the magazine.
  2. Bunz

    Bunz Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2007
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    Despite me making a satirical comment about a Hollywood bailout in another thread, I cant support media outlet bailouts, especially from the feds. The banking industry is different for many reasons, but as the op-ed pointed out, the Constitution mandates a free press, and having a major media outlet(s) propped up through tax dollars underminds this.

    I hope it doesnt come to this though. Newspapers need to find a way to actually compete in the internet world.
  3. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Likes Received:
    The people's republic of Eugene
    I wonder if you are in the minority who support the stim but dont think media should get a chunk. I was kind of surprised to read you did not support it.

    The news said yesterday that the avarage person (IF THEY QUALIFY) will see a 13 dollar increase in their pay check starting in june and ending in Jan. then a 8 dollar a week increase in their pay check for the next six months.

    that is what the avarage person (who even qualifies) gets...

    that is not very stimulating.

    $504.00 spread out over a year... per working person.

    When Bush did the last stim package it was 600 per person plus 300 per child and Michelle Obama snubbed it saying it was not enough, but now is so proud of her egg head husband for spending trillions on pointless bail outs for groupies and the avarage tax payer gets 504 over a year??
  4. Little-Acorn

    Little-Acorn Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2009
    Likes Received:
    San Diego, CA
    This is something that might very well happen soon.

    The govt is bailing out some companies now. Once they do that, ALL other companies can say, "Hey, we employ people too. If you don't bail us out too, there will be severe economic consequences for them. Our employees are regular people too, how can you let them lose their jobs when you're preventing it for that other company over there?"

    The camel's nose is WAY under the tent flap now. If the Fed govt DOESN'T bail out every other company like they bailed out this one, the other companies might have an actionable case, demanding equal treatement under the law.

    And the media has employees too. They have just as much right, they can say, as the rest of the companies.

    Now that the Fed has bailed out some companies, can they legally NOT do it for all?

    Including the media?

    And if they do, do we have a free, independent press any more?
  5. HankHill

    HankHill Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Likes Received:
    With your mom
    I have a feeling that state-run everything is coming on the horizon from the neo-Marxist Obama.

    Oh! I also read somewhere that the Democratic party is changing their name to the Ba'ath party. It has a certain dictatorial ring to it, don'tcha think?
  6. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 20, 2007
    Likes Received:
    The Golden State
    And I think you're wrong. We'll see, as time goes on.

    Are you taking bets as to whether the federal government actually bails out the media, and actually dictates what they can and can't say?

    Or, is that just some kind of outrageous straw man?

    If you're right, of course, and if the government does take over the media, and if it really starts to dictate what they can and can't say, then I'll be the first one in line to join the revolution.

    But, I think you're overreacting just a tad.

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